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Transrockies Challenge - NE
Canada, August 8-14, 2004
Stage 3 - August 10: Dutch Creek to Etherington Creek
"Compared to TransRockies, TransAlp is nothing" - Andreas Strobl, Team Fiat Rotwild
By Paul Done
In every sense of the word, Day Three of the 2004 TransRockies was epic. Though the parcours looked straightforward enough at 95km with 2200 metres of climbing, it would be a long day, but nothing could prepare the racers for the nearly 50km of unrelenting mud produced by the pouring rain of the previous few days.
The mud was the wildcard that caused major mechanical for the two leading teams and allowed the previously third placed Tean Crowsnest of Neil Grover and Troy Misseghers to finish the day atop the standings with a huge 18-minute margin. Their winning time of 6:!3 was a over 20 minutes ahead of the second-placed Team Swisspower and 45 minutes ahead of the closest of the original two top teams.
After the leading teams had separated themselves from the rest of the pack, over the first 18 km climb to 1850 metres, disaster struck Team Rocky Mountain as Andreas Hestler broke his derailleur and was forced to improvise his bike into a single speed. His teammate Karl Platt towed him across all the flat sections trying to minimize their losses, but over 50km without a derailleur cost Team Rocky Mountain an hour to Team Crowsnest and they now have a 35 minute gap to try and close.
Team Fiat Rotwild was just as unlucky. On the long, steep descent off the top of the fearsome Monster Hill, Silvio Weltschnig suffered a terminal wheel problom and his teammate Andreas Strobl rode down the descent to where their support was waiting then flew back up the hill to make repairs. They still found themselves 45 minutes behind at the finish and are now over 18 minutes behind on the overall.
Former Canadian National Team member and former Hestler's former Trade Teammate Neil Grover, and current Pro Racer Troy Misseghers must count themselves lucky to be find themselves with such a solid grip on the lead. But if Stage Three of the 2004 TransRockies indicates anything, it's that leads can disappear quickly.
Team Scott Contessa rode to their third straight stage win of the race holding off the ever improving Team Maverick/GoFast. The performance of Master's Category leaders Team VC International (Stefan Ruttimann/Karl Arnold) had another exceptional performance finishing in second place overall on the stage and stretching their category lead to over two hours on a day which saw many amateur teams finishing in over ten hours, and some being pulled off the course as darkness fell.
At this point, the only option for the Team Rocky Mountain and Team Fiat Rotwild is "maximum attack" on the four stages that remain.
Images by Paul Done/www.sugoi.ca